Friday, 20 March 2009

How to Visit a Museum

10 Steps to Fashion Freedom is a book I have enjoyed, though I would be the first to admit it probably has a lot of twaddle in it. However, it did teach me how to see things better. One of the steps they recommend is to have an aesthetic field trip. They suggest choosing a place you've not been before. Some ideas include:
  • an art museum
  • an ethnic neighbourhood
  • an "old" part of town
  • a hip and happening area [some may have to travel further than others to find this...]
  • an up-market shopping area
  • an antique shop
  • an art and photographic gallery
  • a furniture shop
  • a home furnishings or fabric store
They tell you to
  • make an appointment with yourself
  • choose your companion carefully or go alone
  • adopt a positive attitude about the trip
  • dress comfortably and appropriately
  • take a journal or small notebook
  • roam around
  • leave if you don't like the music, atmosphere or a person, ie staff
  • be open-minded, flexible and willing to learn
  • notice what you are drawn to, keeping in mind it may only be part of a whole
  • observe the people
  • be patient with yourself
  • resist buying anything
  • rest when you need to
When you get back home, answer these questions:
  1. Were you engaged in the experience, or were you purely an observer? Did you feel the need to be entertained or were you able to generate your own excitement?
  2. Did you enjoy being in places where many objects were clustered in one area -- for example, one wall with ten paintings, a furniture shop crowded with furniture -- or were you happier in an environment with one piece of sculpture occupying a vast space? In short, did you like crowded spaces or minimalist spaces?
  3. Did you like quiet environments, or did you prefer the hustle and bustle of busy environments?
  4. If you were in a shop, did you notice the music? Did you like it? Did you prefer high-energy or calm and melodic sounds?
  5. What about smells?
  6. What objects, things, colours or textures do you remember the most? What specifically has stayed with you?
  7. Were you inspired by anything? If so, what and why?
  8. Was there anything that you saw that you would like to learn more about? What is it? Why?
  9. What did you dislike? Why?
  10. What confirmed something you already knew about your taste?
  11. What surprised you?
  12. Did you learn anything about your preference for a particular era?
  13. If you visited a neighbourhood, were you able to soak up the atmosphere? What did you experience? Did anything in particular stay with you?
  14. What were the people like in the places you visited? How did you feel about them? Was there anything memorable about them? How did they make you feel about yourself?
  15. What is the most important thing you learned from your trip?

It all sounds a bit airy-fairy, I know, but I typed up these questions and took them along with me to my first trip to the Bowes Museum. I was bowled over at what I saw and when we sat in the cafe and had some coffee and a scone, I looked over the questions and made some notes. I felt as though I got 1,000 times more pleasure from our visit, approaching it as an academic exercise.

The aim is to learn more about what you like and don't like as one of the steps to choosing appropriate clothes for yourself. I can't truthfully say this has changed much about how I purchase clothing, but it certainly has made visiting interesting places and watching visually-rich films a much greater pleasure. I would highly recommend this exercise to anyone, which of course is why I took the trouble of sharing it.

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